Over the past few months, H-1B visa holders have been working hard towards staying back in the US, through any legal means available. Through the latter part of the previous year and the earlier months of this year, several tech giants had laid off thousands of tech professionals, many of whom were H-1B visa holders.
According to regulations, H-1B visa holders have 60 days to take initiative and change their status or find another job, to stay in the USA. However, USCIS director Ur M Jaddou, in a letter to the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS), stated that laid-off non-immigrant workers may be unaware of their options and think that they will have to leave the country in 60 days regardless.
Amid such huge layoffs, among several organisations who had requested the Biden administration to provide support during such tough times, two Indian-American organisations had filed an online petition to increase the grace period for an H-1B visa, from 60 days to 1 year. It was understood that the H-1B holders need to find a job within 60 days or be asked to leave the US.
Acknowledging the impact of the tech layoffs, USCIS highlighted four actions that the non-immigrant can take upon being laid off. These include filing an application for a "compelling circumstances" employment authorization document, filing an application for a change of non-immigrant status, being the beneficiary of a non-frivolous petition to change employer or filing an application for adjustment of status.
According to the statement by the USCIS, the non-immigrant workers who take any of these four actions within the specified 60 grace days, the authorised period of stay for the H-1B holders will be extended. USCIS states the extension will stand true even if the grace period expires.
However, non-immigrant workers who fail to take any one of the four actions within 60 days, they will be asked to leave the country, along with their dependents, within 60 days or the expiration day of their authorised validity period.
Nevertheless, the US has been working towards improving the condition of the techies who had been laid off in the past few months. Last month, the US planned to resume domestic visa revalidation later this year. The programme should help foreign workers to have their visas stamped within US borders, which was not possible since 2004.
Source: Hindustan Times
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